Only now can the truth be told: I've never played Angry Birds. The same goes for most mobile games, other than the ones I've had to help my three children try to figure out. I do not own an Apple Watch, and have no intention of buying a similar wearable anytime soon. The apps I check most often are the same big monoliths that everyone else uses: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and (because I do a lot of reading) Pocket.
How on Earth did a guy like me get a gig running FierceDeveloper? It's a reasonable question, and one I think worth answering, particularly as I finish off this, my final column as its editor. I guess I could argue that, as a journalist, I'm not unlike the political reporters who could never hope of running for office themselves, or sportswriters who would probably be laughed off the field if they were to try out for a pro team. There is merit in being a distanced, if enthused, third-party observer. It helps you (at least occasionally) to see the big picture of a subject more often than you would if you were more personally invested in it.
That's what I tell myself, anyway. The reality is you can't cover something as specific as the apps economy without developing a level of sympathy, if not empathy, for your audience. That's definitely been my experience with FierceDeveloper. The best parts of this job have been profiling indie developers who were trying to create brand-new mobile experiences out of nothing. I loved watching scrappy entrepreneurs throw their hat into the ring against infinitely larger, more well-established competitors. The creativity, passion and ingenuity of this community is unparalleled.
If there has been any downside to this job, it's been the ongoing and in some cases increasing challenges around discoverability, engagement and monetization even as the industry argues over whether we're reached "peak app." I still hold out a lot of hope that more developers will take advantage of the tools being made available to them and boost their monthly average user base, the lifetime value of their average user and other metrics that matter. The potential for developers who plateaued commercially on smartphones and tablets to conquer new worlds on smart watches, TVs and the Internet of Things is also a huge reason to remain optimistic.
I'd like to take this opportunity to offer a huge debt of thanks to Fierce Markets, particularly Mike Dano and Sue Marek, for giving me the chance to edit FierceDeveloper. I'd also like to thank everyone who has been reading, commenting, pitching their ideas and connecting with me in person at industry events. If there's one last reason to feel good about the future of the app economy, it's that this audience has a publication will continue to chronicle its growth and success in 2016 and beyond.--Shane